Windows XP's countdown to retirement: T-minus 500 days

Microsoft is putting the 11-year-old operating system out to pasture in another year and a half and it means it. So get moving.

We are now less than 500 days from the end of support for Windows XP Service Pack 3 and Office 2003. Looking at the size of the existing XP population, that makes me rather nervous.

This past summer, Microsoft said corporate adoption of Windows 7 was at 50%. After three years, that's disturbing. It should be much higher than that. Granted, adoption of Windows 7 is picking up some. According to the most recent market share analytics from Net Applications, Windows XP still constitutes 39% of the market. Windows 7 continues to grow while Windows 8 isn't showing up at all yet.

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Windows XP is a Rootkit Spawning Pool

On the consumer side, the monthly Steam analytics shows consumer use of XP to be down to a mere 11%. Since Steam is used by gamers, I consider its analytics to be a snapshot of the home market, and XP has been plummeting for the last three years in the home. It's business that's dragging its feet.

Why is this important? Because come April 2014, Microsoft will cease to issue any fixes for Windows XP Service Pack 3. One thing we know is that operating systems out of support became havens for malware because once an exploit is found, only bad guys will use it. Microsoft won't fix it.

Such is the case now with Windows XP SP2 and earlier. It was found to be a major source of malware because exploits were being uncovered and not being fixed/patched. XP SP3 will be in the same boat in 17 months.

So these XP PCs need to be retired and put out to pasture as fast as possible. If they are newer and capable of running Windows 7, then they should be updated. Otherwise, they need to be recycled and removed as a potential malware host.

Of course that's easy to say. There are still many companies that have apps tied to XP that can't be easily moved to Windows 7, although after three years, if you haven't moved your app, you really have some explaining to do. No app should take three years to migrate from XP to 7.

And if the day comes where your business PCs are running Windows XP and Microsoft has ceased support and there is a data breach, security breach or data loss, how will you explain that to customers, business partners and shareholders, when Microsoft gave you a two-year warning?

Anyone who hasn't migrated from XP to 7 at this point clearly has much larger issues on a personnel or corporate level that need to be addressed fast. Preferably before April 2014.

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